May 14, 2004 at 10:24 a.m.
North Branch 0
Jake Anderson has already had his share of tough luck games. For example, of his four losses, the senior has only allowed two runs in two of them. Still, Anderson and the Vikings stayed put with one win on the season after falling to Big Lake 3-0 on May 3rd.
The Hornets needed just four hits in the game. Meanwhile, North Branch mustered only two, both singles. The Vikings also struck out 11 times and walked twice.
“It’s hard from Jake’s stand-point,” said Troy Walker, North Branch head baseball coach. “We got some people on base, but we’re not getting anybody to step up and drive them in.”
Anderson was almost perfect on the mound, going five innings, allowing two hits but only one was earned. From there, Nick Aaland pitched the final two innings, also looking strong. However, the Vikings looked anything but at the plate.
“It’s just getting the guys in,” remarked Walker. “Big Lake got some guys in on a couple of errors. We need to find a way to do that when we have people on. It’s been another challenging year from that standpoint. But you have to stay positive. We’re still doing a lot of hitting drills in practice, and with four games in three days coming up, hopefully that will help too.”
The loss dropped the Vikings record to 1-7 on the season. Four of those losses have come by a combined eight runs.
Big Lake 3, North Branch 0
R H E
Big Lake 100 101 0 3 4 0
North Branch 000 000 0 0 2 1
D. Stahley 0-3
R. Stahley 0-1
LP: Anderson (1-4)
7 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 K
North Branch 5
Last Thursday against Foley, things started to turn around. Troy Walker noticed it, the fans in the stands noticed it, and even the Vikings themselves noticed it. Yes, they still lost, but after struggling at the plate all season, North Branch finally started to lock in.
It showed, as the Vikings banged out nine hits, scoring five runs including four in one inning. However, all five of the runs came late in the game, too late to comeback from a seven run deficit, too late to grab a win, but they showed signs.
“We had one big inning. We haven’t had one of those this season,” said Walker, North Branch head baseball coach. “We needed to score some runs earlier in the game. It’s hard to come back late like that, but we got some things going.”
Trailing 7-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Joe Ranger got it going with his first home run of the season, putting the Vikings on the scoreboard in dramatic fashion.
Then, in the bottom of the sixth, four more runs, including a Ranger triple that scored Jake Anderson. Anderson and Nick Aaland also picked up RBI’s in the inning. Aaland grabbed two on a two-run double.
The four run rally brought the Vikings within two at 7-5. That’s as far as the comeback would go as Foley scored two in the seventh to wrap up a 9-5 win. Still, the feeling in the North Branch dugout was positive. All they needed was a game to get going, was that it?
Foley 9, North Branch 5
R H E
Foley 000 340 2 9 9 1
North Branch 000 014 0 5 9 0
Ryan 2-4, R
D. Stahley 1-4
Aaland 1-3, RBI, R
Anderson 1-3, RBI, R
Ranger 2-3, 2 RBI, HR
R. Stahley 0-2
LP: Aaland (0-2)
Brooklyn Center Tourney
North Branch 9
Blake 8 (10 innings)
All signs pointed to yes.
Less than 24 hours after giving Foley a run, the Vikings opened up the Brooklyn Center Tournament last Friday with confidence, mainly at the plate where they continued to pound the ball.
Facing Blake, the Vikings opened up the game with a run in the second before falling behind 6-1 after three and a half innings. Then in the bottom of the fourth, North Branch closed the gap with three runs of their own, pulling within two at 6-4.
The back and forth marathon was only beginning. After a scoreless fifth inning, the Vikings tied the score at six with two more runs. Both teams failed to score in the seventh, forcing extra innings.
Both teams continued the stalemate into the 10th inning. Tied 7-7, Blake grabbed the lead with run in the top of the 10th before the Vikings responded with two in the bottom of the inning to win the game, 9-8. The game-winning run came off the bat of Dominic Stahley who plated Patrick Ryan from second.
“I think we’re starting to believe in ourselves,” remarked Walker. “We finally closed a game out, we haven’t done that this year. In that sense, it was a big game for us.”
It was a big game for Jake Anderson as well. The senior pitched all 10 innings for the Vikings to earn his second win of the season. As a team, North Branch improved to 2-8 overall.
“In the fourth, we were down 6-1, and I was looking at maybe taking Jake out to rest him for the second part of our next game,” remembered Walker. “But we just kept on chipping away. His arm was great and I figured we might as well let him finish it. He pitched a gem of a game.”
Anderson’s line for the game included 10 strikeouts in 10 innings of work. Meanwhile, at the plate, Nick Aaland finished with three hits. Dominic Stahley, Matt Warren, and Joe Ranger added two hits.
North Branch 9, Blake 8 (10 inn.)
Blake 003 300 001 1 8 14
N. B 010 302 001 2 9 10
Ryan 0-4, R
Aaland 3-4, 3 R
D. Stahley 2-4, RBI, R
Warren 2-4, 2 RBI, 3 R
Fletcher 1-4, RBI, R
WP: Anderson (2-4)
10 IP, 10 K
Brooklyn Center Tourney
North Branch 6
After one inning against Montgomery in round two of the Brooklyn Center Tournament last Saturday, the Vikings bats were put on notice once again.
Montgomery jumped on North Branch immediately, scoring six runs in the first, paving the way for a 8-6 win. Even though the Vikings outscored Montgomery 6-2 the rest of the way, they still suffered their ninth loss of the season.
“Ed Meier made his first start and he was a little nervous,” explained Walker. “We walked a couple of guys, then we had a couple of errors in the outfield that accounted for all of those runs. That was the difference.”
Unfortunately, it was most likely the difference between a win and a loss. Down 7-0, North Branch got on the board with one run in the fourth. They then added five runs in the seventh to close the gap within two. Two of those runs came on Matt Fletcher’s first home run of the season. Matt Warren and Nick Aaland also added RBI’s, but the rally wasn’t enough.
“We finished strong and that was nice to see,” replied Walker. “You just can’t fall behind like that and expect to come back. Still, I was happy with the way we finished the game and I think that carried over.”
Montgomery 8, North Branch 6
R H E
North Branch 000 100 5 6 8 3
Montgomery 601 100 X 8 7 2
Savage 1-3, RBI
Ryan 0-3, R
Aaland 2-4, R
D. Stahley 0-2
Warren 2-4, RBI, R
Fletcher 2-4, 2 RBI, HR
Anderson 1-3, R
LP: Meier (0-1)
Brooklyn Center Tourney
Third place game-
North Branch 8
Last Saturday in the third place game at the Brooklyn Center Tournament, it all came together.
The solid start....check
Although Minnehaha Academy started the scoring, their one run in the third was manageable compared to what the Vikings had been dealing with the past three games. And, the North Branch definitely did manage it, tying the score in the third thanks to a Matt Warren triple, then grabbing the lead in the fourth with two more runs. Both RBI’s in the fourth inning came from Dan Gary who registered his first career varsity hit. It was a double.
“I think we carried things over from our previous games,” said Walker. “Hitting is all about confidence and I think the guys are starting to get that.”
Leading 3-2, North Branch rattled off five more runs with one in the fifth and four in the sixth. After Nick Aaland pushed the Viking lead to 4-2 with a sacrifice fly, Jake Anderson drove in two runs with a single in the sixth, while two more runs scored on force outs, leading to a 8-4 win and a third place trophy.
On the mound, Nick Aaland showcased his stuf, picking up a complete game win, his first victory of the season.
“I think the guys are starting to feel it,” stated Walker, referring to his teams recent surge of momentum. “They know they can hang with teams. They’re starting to hit, our defense has been awesome this year. Now that we’re hitting, we’ve been able to put some things together.”
Now 3-9 overall, the Vikings play four more games this week, all four conference battles.
North Branch 8, Minnehaha 4
R H E
Minnehaha 001 102 0 4 9 2
North Branch 001 214 X 8 7 1
Savage 0-2, 2 R
Warren 2-4, RBI
Aaland 0-1, RBI
Fletcher 1-2, 2 R
D. Stahley 1-2, 2 R
Gray 1-2, 2 RBI, R
Anderson 1-1, 2 RBI, R
WP: Aaland (1-2)